I'm seeing repeated presentation of the notion that VAWA itself is a gender-neutral piece of legislation, and that all of the problems with it are caused by law-enforcement, administrative, and judicial response. That notion is a blatantly false representation of both the letter, and the intent of the law.
Let me start by saying that VAWA is hard to search online. That is because its official title is the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. (This link goes to the complete text of that law, in PDF form.) Title IV (sec. 40001) of the act states, "This title may be cited as the `Violence Against Women Act of 1994'."
A section by section breakdown of the bill (the version which passed into law) is available on the Library of Congress's website, via THOMAS.
Going on, the discriminatory effects of the law occur in part due to gender-specific wording which indicates for the entire system that the intent of the law is that it apply to the protection of women, not the protection of everyone. However, the bulk of gender discrimination is caused by the way the law's funding is designed.
VAWA's stipulations included funding to contract research done with the express goal of justifying the continued application of enforcement aimed at benefiting only women:
SEC. 40291. RESEARCH AGENDA.This creates a system of self-perpetuation, wherein VAWA funding goes toward the purchase of academic "proof" that VAWA is necessary and right.
(a) REQUEST FOR CONTRACT- The Attorney General shall request the National Academy of Sciences, through its National Research Council, to enter into a contract to develop a research agenda to increase the understanding and control of violence against women, including rape and domestic violence. In furtherance of the contract, the National Academy shall convene a panel of nationally recognized experts on violence against women, in the fields of law, medicine, criminal justice, and direct services to victims and experts on domestic violence in diverse, ethnic, social, and language minority communities and the social sciences. In setting the agenda, the Academy shall focus primarily on preventive, educative, social, and legal strategies, including addressing the needs of underserved populations.
(b) DECLINATION OF REQUEST- If the National Academy of Sciences declines to conduct the study and develop a research agenda, it shall recommend a nonprofit private entity that is qualified to conduct such a study. In that case, the Attorney General shall carry out subsection (a) through the nonprofit private entity recommended by the Academy. In either case, whether the study is conducted by the National Academy of Sciences or by the nonprofit group it recommends, the funds for the contract shall be made available from sums appropriated for the conduct of research by the National Institute of Justice.
(c) REPORT- The Attorney General shall ensure that no later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the study required under subsection (a) is completed and a report describing the findings made is submitted to the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives.
Also contained in the bill were grants to fund the funneling of that propaganda effort into law enforcement policy, prosecutor policy, and judicial policy.
Section 40121 created grants specifically focusing only on violence against women, which funded:
- Training for officers and prosecutors
- The creation of special units to focus on domestic violence (specifically) against women
- Changing precinct, prosecutor's office, and court policy to reflect the intent of the law
- Developing communication and tracking systems around the concept of addressing specifically violence against women
- Providing additional crime victim's services to female accusers
So far: Section 40291 establishes an effort to prove a pattern of male violence against women. Section 40121 establishes an effort to train law enforcement and prosecutors to look for male violence against women. Next, section 40231 establishes a financial incentive for arrests, offers state-funded legal advocacy for accusers in domestic violence cases, and funds influence of judicial handling of cases:
PART U--GRANTS TO ENCOURAGE ARREST POLICIES
`SEC. 2101. GRANTS.
`(a) PURPOSE- The purpose of this part is to encourage States, Indian tribal governments, and units of local government to treat domestic violence as a serious violation of criminal law.
`(b) GRANT AUTHORITY- The Attorney General may make grants to eligible States, Indian tribal governments, or units of local government for the following purposes:
`(1) To implement mandatory arrest or proarrest programs and policies in police departments, including mandatory arrest programs and policies for protection order violations.
`(2) To develop policies and training in police departments to improve tracking of cases involving domestic violence.
`(3) To centralize and coordinate police enforcement, prosecution, or judicial responsibility for domestic violence cases in groups or units of police officers, prosecutors, or judges.
`(4) To coordinate computer tracking systems to ensure communication between police, prosecutors, and both criminal and family courts.
`(5) To strengthen legal advocacy service programs for victims of domestic violence.
`(6) To educate judges in criminal and other courts about domestic violence and to improve judicial handling of such cases.
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